We are continuing our goal of eating “everything green,” and this week the Be Better challenge is to incorporate herbs into your diet. You can add dried herbs or use fresh herbs. But at least three times this week, make a commitment to cook with herbs. Many people think categorize herbs and spices into one category because of their health benefits, but they are different. How do you tell them apart? Herbs come from plants; spices come from seeds, berries, bark and plant roots. According to David Heber, M.D., Ph.D. and director of the UCLA Center of Human Nutrition, “Studies show that many different herbs and spices offer health benefits.” Oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary are the herbs that have been studied the most, he says. In addition to the health benefits of each herb listed below, herbs add flavor to your food. When you cook with the right amount of herbs, your food tastes better. The best part of using herbs is that they add flavor without a lot of extra calories. Herbs have the ability to decrease your desire to overeat or to add extra salt and sugar to the dish.
Health.com outlines the health benefits of each herb:
Basil: Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial characteristics. It's also a rich source of magnesium
Dill: Contains iron and calcium. Its oils may help neutralize carcinogens.
Cilantro: A good source of fiber, iron, and disease-fighting phytonutrients.
Rosemary: Contains fiber, iron, and calcium. It may also increase circulation and improve digestion.
Sage: Contains acids that function as antioxidants. And the term "wise sage" may have some truth – research suggests it may be a memory enhancer.
Thyme: Two teaspoons contain more than half your dietary reference intake (DRI) of vitamin K, and the herb also protects cell membranes.
Parsley: It contains vitamins K, C, and A, and heart-healthy folate.
Advanced Be Better Challenge
Plant your own herb garden this week.